Chronic Illness and COVID-19: Elevated Risks and Steps to Take

Nurse making vaccine injection to elderly patient

As confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in the country, it is of utmost importance that people take the steps needed to protect themselves, especially those with underlying health conditions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those with a possible heightened risk for coronavirus include “People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma, people who are immunocompromised and people with other chronic diseases such as chronic kidney disease.”

Stephen Kopecky, a cardiologist and professor at the Mayo Clinic, told AARP that “as you start to stress one end of the system, the other part of the system has more trouble,” noting compromised immune systems can have more difficulty fighting off the virus.

For example, those with diabetes could sustain damaged blood vessels, which can compromise a person’s lungs, George Rutherford, a physician and epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, told AARP.

While some of the symptoms of COVID-19 can range from mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath, according to the CDC, severe complications from the virus can include “pneumonia in both lungs, multi-organ failure and in some cases death.”

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a compromised immune system can also be the result of certain medications.

The medical center recommends that those who are immunocompromised and on the fence about in-person medical appointments should consider talking with their healthcare provider about telemedicine visits or appointments via phone calls.

Another suggestion from the Cleveland Clinic includes asking your healthcare provider for advance supplies of medication. It adds that those concerned about their medications in relation to COVID-19 shouldn’t stop taking them without first consulting their healthcare provider.

The CDC continues to recommend that people frequently wash their hands, wear a face mask whenever going out in public, and maintain social distance from others in an effort to flatten the curve in the spread of the virus.

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